Portland, Ore. -- The numbers are in and they're impressive. In 2017, anglers caught and removed more than 191,000 northern pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers, protecting young salmon and steelhead from predation.
Approximately 1,100 people registered to be part of the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program. All together anglers removed 191,483 of the salmon-eating predators from the two rivers, and were paid nearly $1,542,000 for their efforts. The program, funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, runs from May 1 through Sept. 30.
The anglers' successes mean BPA is also successfully meeting its program goals.
"The program's goal is to reduce the number of pikeminnow that prey heavily on juvenile salmon," said Makary Hutson, BPA project manager. "Annual harvest rate estimates, which are calculated using data from tagged fish caught by anglers, indicate the 2017 season met our program targets, which directly benefits juvenile salmon making their way to the ocean."
The reward program pays registered anglers $5 to $8 per fish, nine inches or longer. The more fish an angler catches during the season, the more each pikeminnow they reel in is worth. State fish and wildlife biologists also release more than 1,000 specially tagged northern pikeminnow, each worth $500.
This year the top 20 fishermen registered with the Sport Reward Program earned an average of nearly $30,000 each. The top angler earned nearly $84,000, reeling in more than 10,000 fish over the five-month season.
Northern pikeminnow are voracious eaters, consuming millions of young salmon and steelhead every year. Since 1990, anglers paid through the program have removed more than 4.8 million pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers. The program has reduced predation on young salmon and steelhead by up to 40 percent since it began.
The BPA-funded program is administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. The 2018 season is scheduled for May 1 through Sept. 30, 2018. For more information about the program call 800-858-9015 or visit www.pikeminnow.org.
The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit federal power marketer that sells wholesale electricity from 31 federal dams and one nuclear plant to 143 electric utilities, serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA delivers power via more than 15,000 circuit miles of lines and 260 substations to 511 transmission customers. In all, BPA markets about a third of the electricity consumed in the Northwest and operates three-quarters of the region's high-voltage transmission grid. BPA also funds one of the largest fish and wildlife programs in the world, and, with its partners, pursues cost-effective energy savings and operational solutions that help maintain affordable, reliable and carbon-free electric power for the Northwest. www.bpa.gov